Anyone can be at risk for iron deficiency anemia if your body lacks iron, for whatever reason. However, these groups generally have a higher risk:
- Women. Because they lose blood during menstruation, women in general are at greater risk of iron deficiency anemia.
- Infants and children. Infants, especially those who were low birth weight or born prematurely, who don't get enough iron from breast milk or formula may be at risk of iron deficiency. Children need extra iron during growth spurts, because iron is important for muscle development. If your child isn't eating a healthy, varied diet, he or she may be at risk of anemia.
- Vegetarians. Because vegetarians don't eat meat, they're at greater risk of iron deficiency anemia. Iron that comes from grains and vegetables isn't absorbed by the body as well as is iron that comes from meat.
In healthy men and postmenopausal women, iron deficiency may be a sign of bleeding somewhere in the gastrointestinal tract.